How To Word Your Book Titles The Right Way And Why

Book titles are the seal of the writing contract; they're what summarizes our story in a nutshell of words, whether it be one or twenty. 
Yet over the course of two decades, with some names being repeated multiple times or new ones being birthed, it's kind of hard to tell whether people remember book titles or just the book's content itself. Unless, you know, there was a good reason for them to forget because the books they read were....forgettable. (face-palms for bad joke). Ultimately, book titles are important and need to both introduce your work as well as re-enhance the story in some way. 

You see, I read a Star Wars novel awhile back named Kenobi which was a really good read considering the story and what it was going for. The only downside? Well, the title was a little misleading since Obi-Wan wasn't actually a character in that had his own POV. 
He was still involved, mind, but not in the way others as well as myself were expecting. So in that area of speaking, I was a little disappointed. Which then brings me back to titles; while the old term "don't judge a book by its cover" still holds a truth of its own, it becomes slightly flawed when leading to here. Book titles can, admittedly, bring a lot of expectation. If rewarding for the reader, it would end up as a sacred magic word placed in the many other ancient holy grails of literature. If not, well, people might make fun of it later then leave you with a sour face....

Image result for mock laughing gif

So here is the four main points to consider when creating the title of your future novel:

1. Make it the summary of your story line.
This is what people will see first before the pages, so take it as a rare one-liner in a million sentences you just can't put out of your head because of how really memorable, challenging and awesome it is. Like I said, this will be basically summarizing your entire story in one simple tagline. Make sure that it more or less connects to the synopsis in some way, and not just random for the sake of it. 
If I decided, for example, to rename Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as Lizzie vs Darcy And Some Other Conflict would be pretty dumb. Sure, in some way this does mention the romance dynamic and comedy side, but it's still misleading in that it sounds more like something you'd find in a satire or comic book. Not to mention it takes away the graceful style of the eighteenth century just through erasing those three words. (But maybe my title might work somewhere else though....)

2. Don't use nonsensical words.
Seriously, this is a big red flag if your title has a word like it. Sometimes it can work in the book's favor, but not always. Especially if that book doesn't turn out so well. As much as we writers want to be original with everything we do, there are some cases where sticking with familiar words is just the best and more wiser thing to do. Ones like "of," "the" "and",etc are not always a big problem despite what others might say. Also, be careful when it comes having only one word as your title. They're usually the most common ones in the firing line of being mocked, at least from what I can tell: 

Image result for detergent divergent parody

                                                                                                                         This is actually funny; but just to give you an idea...
3. Leave with it intrigue.
The whole point of a title is to draw you in and have a reader or by passer of bookshelves interested. So don't decide, like with my example above, to not only make it sound rather boring or annoying to read but also give away the entire plot or at least reveal a spoiler. Unless that was your intention from the very start, it's not a good idea to do so. Of course, this is something everyone knows when making the title in the first place, so I'm leaving it there.

4. Only be misleading if it's necessary.
Here's the thing; there a lot of misleading titles out there in some shape or form. Even some of the classics have done it too. 
Examples are The Lord of the Rings, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Watership Down are rather misleading in their own way. In the case of Lord of the Rings it's that the real Lord (a.k.a Sauron) is mostly mentioned but never appears as a main character in a human form except as a spoken threat (unless it's referring to Frodo Baggins somehow, though I kind of doubt it.) 
But that isn't to say everyone can have issue with this, since it's all to do with subjectivity. Another example would be Mad Max: Fury Road (it's a film, I know, but there you go), as Mad Max is a character but the real story is on Furiosa and her journey to help a group of women escape from captivity. People, however still loved the film anyway. 
Ultimately, these stories may have had titles that differed slightly from their story, but there were understandable reasons for these contrasts. Lord of the Rings has its name not only just to give it more of an epic feel but also in reference to the great and dangerous power the hero has which he tries to destroy. In Fury Road, it was to have a chance to bring new insight into the iconic dystopian world while still having Mad Max in a dual role.

Titles are simple and easy, but sometimes we may often forget their importance as name bearers to the stories we love and remember whether for good or bad reasons. So whether you have the title already there or at the very end when you've finished writing, remember these few things and hope with much that your title may end up in the Holy Grail of Titles in the future.

So those are my thoughts on book titles; what are yours? Let me know in the comments, share this post and follow for more! :D 


  1. 'Detergent'?
    "They call me Four because I have four fears. Paint stains, spilling bleach on colored clothing, losing socks (shudder), and finding your laundry is still damp after you've begun taking it from the dryer."


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